Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme
Category: General Aviation
Report TitleNOTAM Information Missing or Incomplete
The NOTAM Info web site at [website] has had a serious fault since late December 2022. Attempts to report this to the site owner have gone unanswered. The site shows no warning about the fault and appears to work correctly. Pilots who habitually use the site may rely on it as their sole or main source of NOTAM information and may consequently be unaware of important NOTAMs resulting in entry to temporarily restricted airspace or even a collision. The nature of the error is that the software is designed to retrieve all the NOTAMs for the next 7 days. However, from 29th December 2022 onwards, NOTAMs are only retrieved for the next hour. It wasn’t until mid-January that I first realised that I wasn’t seeing all the NOTAMs relevant to my planned flights. I reported the problem using the CONTACT form on the web site. I have had no response so far and the error persists. I have alerted other pilots to the problem and now use the AIS web site to retrieve NOTAMs. [Note, the website has subsequently been corrected which is why we don’t mention its name]. I admit to taking the short cut of using a non-approved source to get my pre-flight NOTAM briefing. I mitigated that by calling the free AIS Information Line number 08085 354802 which is what made me realise that I wasn’t seeing all the relevant NOTAMs.
Although this report refers to a specific website, the issue is much wider in that it highlights the risks of using uncertified 3rd-party NOTAM websites and electronic planning aids that might have errors or missing information. The definitive source of NOTAM information is the NATS AIS website but, in many respects, it’s not user-friendly and so this is why people use 3rd-party providers. CHIRP has engaged with NATS about this in the past, and improvements have been made in many aspects, but we are pressing them and the CAA to provide a more graphical, chart-based NOTAM and airspace change interface to make them much more user-friendly.
The bottom-line is that although some 3rd-party NOTAM providers may well provide a more functional user interface, they are not the definitive source of NOTAM information and so should be used with extreme care.
Dirty Dozen Human Factors
The following ‘Dirty Dozen’ Human Factors elements were a key part of the CHIRP discussions about this report and are intended to provide food for thought when considering aspects that might be pertinent in similar circumstances.
Resources – poor user interface for NATS NOTAM retrieval causing people to use 3rd-party websites
Knowledge – potential for errors or omissions in 3rd-party NOTAM websites
Complacency – assumption that 3rd-party NOTAM websites provide definitive NOTAM information